All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season – from the shopping and wrapping, to entertaining and traveling – can leave us feeling tired, overwhelmed, and downright distracted. In fact, with everything that’s going on, it’s too bad that bad luck or misfortune couldn’t take a break this time of year.

Unfortunately, it’s the other way around. As in, communities all over America witness an increase in theft and property damage over the holidays as would-be robbers and vandals try to use all the inherent distractions to their advantage.

But now you can better protect your home and family and preserve the holiday spirit by following these time-tested tips.

  • Keep some lights on when you leave the house, especially at night. And install motion-activated lights outside.
  • Make sure holiday gifts are not visible from any windows.
  • Deter porch package thieves by having your packages held for pickup. Or ask the shipping service to leave them on a back porch or at the home of a neighbor.
  • Cut up all boxes, especially from pricey electronics, before putting them out in a trash or recycling bin.
  • If traveling for the holidays, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home, park his or her car in your driveway occasionally, and bring in your mail.
  • Never leave valuables in clear sight in your car and keep the doors locked at all times.
  • Know what you have. Keep a list of all your valuables and update it often.
  • Don’t forget about identity theft. Always shield your credit card information at checkout or while at an ATM. And only use online shops that offer secured checkout.

Hopefully the day will come when advice like this won’t be necessary. But for now, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.